Thursday, October 19, 2017

French Dip Review: Nat's Original Beef Dip, White Spot, BC Ferries -

By Mr. Joshua Dennis

Since moving to Vancouver Island, British Columbia I have taken my share of ferry rides. BC ferries has a contract with the White Spot restaurant chain to serve food on the ships. White Spot could be compared to a Denny’s or perhaps a Sheri’s Cafe. It is a bit more of a novelty on a giant steel vessel, but still a low to mid range diner style eatery. Despite my trepidation I decided that on this fateful evening sailing I would order a Nat’s Original Beef Dip from the limited menu. Did it turn out to be a mistake? Do I regret my decision? Was it the best sandwich I have ever had? The answer to these questions, and undoubtedly infinitely more, will be held in the rest of this review. If you stop reading now it will like never watching or knowing what happened at the end of TV series “Lost”...okay perhaps that is a bad analogy.

First let me set the scene. Imagine consuming a meal with some of your closest friends in an intimate setting while enjoying a nice Malbec or craft beer. Now imagine brilliant conversation complimented by smooth jazz playing at a perfect level, allowing for both the comforting tones of Miles Davis and pleasant conversation with surrounding confidants. Now imagine the opposite of that. Welcome to eating in the cafeteria of a ship in the BC Ferry fleet. That may be a tad dramatic, but it certainly doesn’t have the atmosphere of  a quaint cafe or even a crowded  brewpub. It is more like a prison mess hall….or so I’ve heard.
Nat's Original Beef Dip $14.49 CAD
Alright, enough with the nonsense and tomfoolery. Let’s get down to why you are really here. The BC Ferry White Spot Nat’s Original Beef Dip Sandwich. As a side option I went with yam fries because I am crazy and oh so unpredictable. Eric Veal is awesome! See told ya, unpredictable.

Decent Yam Fries
Let’s start with the yam fries. Alongside the sandwich there was a healthy helping of dark orange, skin-on frites. They were soft with a light batter creating a slight crunchiness. The fries were of the thin yet wide variety and upon first consumption it was apparent they were from a quality yam. A round, single serve plastic container filled with Triple O’s chipotle mayo accompanied the French fried yams (I apologize to anyone from Belgium, I am aware of the history of the “French” fry). The dipping sauce was more chipotle than mayo and all the better for it. Although slightly cold, I don’t have much complaint about the fries. They had the gentle luscious flavor of a sweet potato pie and were a decent side dish.

The beef dip was more difficult to wrap my head around. Upon first glance it looked to have potential. The bread appeared to be freshly baked, within the last several days at least. There was plenty of sliced beef piled up inside of the roll. A small bowl of savory brown liquid sat idle on the plate just daring the sandwich to dip. This au jus had plenty of flavor and tasted of real beef, not of a powder mix. It was uncommonly thick, almost a gravy. This allowed it to readily adhere to the sandwich, ensuring plenty of lubrication with every bite. It also gave the appearance of putting lipstick on a pig. This au jus was the star of the show. Although the show was a flop on Broadway. Now I’m getting ahead of myself..

Let’s take a bit of time on the actual sandwich now. The bread to meat ratio was very adequate. I wanted to make sure that there was something nice in this review, so there it was. The bread that served as the meat house was overtly bland. It tasted like what the flavour of a  cumulus cloud would be. Upon the inside of the bread there was some variation of a garlic spread infused with some herbs and spices. As far as I could tell this served two purposes. It gave off the impression that the fabricators of the sandwich were putting forth some effort and it was the only real flavor of the sandwich itself.
Disappointment Abounds
The beef of the dip was a bitter disappointment. On the bright digital billboard which served as the menu, Nat’s Original Beef Dip is pictured with what appears to be moist, thin sliced beef cooked somewhere between medium and medium rare. The beef on the actual sandwich was sliced thinly, but it certainly was not moist. In one of the attached pictures it looks moist, however that is some of the butter from the bun creating a sheen. Dry, lean and bland. With the au jus and the garlic spread there was some semblance of flavor, the beef contributed very little to the flavor profile however.


Going into this meal I had my doubts about the quality of the boat dip. It lived up to those expectations. Overall it would probably be best to choose something else from the menu on a BC Ferry trip. The cheeseburger and chicken burger are respectable, but this isn’t called Cheeseburger or Chicken Burger Review is it?

Bread 2
Meat 2
Side (Yam fries) 3
Au Jus 3
Overall: 2
Even being a captive audience on a ship at sea, don’t make the same mistake as me. Order something else to eat, for this sandwich has dry bland meat.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Tulalip Casino Prime Rib Dip - French Dip Review

Sorry for the blurriness.  Cheese bread?

Cornichons on the skewer, kind of a cute, nice touch.

Didn't look very good or meaty.  Served with an orange slice.  Why?  The whole sandwich kind of has an orange hue to it.  Why? :)

We think we see cheese but it's actually just fat on that meat. :(

Jus looks fine, served in a large cup / bowl.

The money shot, blurry.  Sorry for the bad photography.  We can see it's not overly meaty. :(

Setting the stage

John Angus, Kevin Graham, me, Jason Myers, Matt Coleman and Neil Kloke.  All friends from Anacortes High School who were together at the Tulalip Casino (good crossroads between Seattle, Bellingham and Anacortes) to watch the Washington Huskies Football team lose in a very poor performance to Arizona State University, in Tempe.
We were sitting having beers and this guy named "Cirus" came up and chatted us up.  He needed a seat.  He worked for the tribe and at some point the conversation regarding my French dip hobby came up.  He said there was one in the casino at one of the other restaurants.  At some point he disappeared and I ordered and enjoyed nachos.  

Out of the blue (I thought this was super weird but also super nice), the guy reappeared with a French dip and french fries.  It honestly didn't look very good and I had just eaten so I was not overly stoked.  I tried to refuse his gift but he insisted.  So I demonstrated to my buddy Jason the technique of reviewing a French dip sandwich.  He and I agreed it was a 2 of 5 in quality and enjoyment.  I really appreciate Cirus sharing this with me (it was comped) and we had a good time at the casino, generally.  We will be back.  But I will not be back for the French dip.

Tasting Notes

  • The bread was a 2.  Kind of cheap, white  and pillowy with this cheese-top feature which I thought was odd.
  • The meat was a 2.  It was not heaping and had visible, ugly fat and was a grayish hue
  • The jus was a 3-4 but looked and tasted like something from a packet.  Good taste, large size.
  • Jason said, "The fat looks like cheese", which was definitely a memorable yet sad comment.
  • Overall this thing gets a 2

Citizens Kitchen and Bar, Mandalay Bay Casino, Las Vegas, NV French Dip Review

I was in Vegas for Tableau Conference 2017 and had a really good time.  Eating a French dip while there heightens the experience.  Here is a picture of me (right), Spencer, Eric and Alberto at the Minus 5 Ice Bar in the Mandalay Bay Hotel.  It was fun there.  

Mandalay Bay in the early morning, early October.

French Dip.  Thin sliced Prime rib, Caramelized Onions, Provolone, Au Jus.  Sounds promising.  $20 is pricey.

The ordering counter.  We were there at lunch at it was very crowded.  This is just a random restaurant inside the casino that we picked.

It came in a clear plastic container.

Unboxed.  It doesn't look too bad from here and came with a big pickle.

But the more I analyzed it, the more it looked really greasy.

Raw Tasting Notes

  • Looks greasy generally.  Bad first impression.
  • A lot of meat. which is nice
  • The sandwich alone reasonable, coming in at a 3 of 5
  • It was dripping some kind of unknown liquid, which seemed unnecessary and subpar
  • The meat gets a 4 for quantity
  • The pickle gets a 4, it was good
  • The onions were greasy and not overly exciting, I only give them a 2
  • The bread was 3, acceptable
  • And now the jus: it was greasy and gets a 1.  It tasted terrible and was greasy.
  • I didn't even want to use the jus it was so bad.
  • The sandwich was moist enough without the jus so why bother ruining it with some poor-tasting grease bath?
  • I didn't hardly notice or see the cheese so it gets a 2
  • The coleslaw wasn't that great and got a 2
  • Overall this French dip gets a 2.  It was seriously bad and greasy


Please avoid this French dip.  It is overpriced and not good.

Bread 3
Meat 3
Sides 3 (average of good pickle and lackluster coleslaw)
Jus 1, just terrible.  I should give it a zero but am feeling charitable.  It was bad.
Non-Meat Toppings 2 between the unnecessary cheese and onions
Overall 2 not a good experience.  Fix your jus and have a prayer.  Make your sandwich, preparation and ingredients less greasy.

Dub Pub French Dip in Kirkland, WA Review

It was fight night.

People were crowding in.

I was drinking a beer in anticipation.

But the wait for the main eventwas so long.

And I was so hungry and they had a French dip.

And so I ordered one.

And observed it.

And it looked pretty good, tots, skewers and all.

The money shot looks pretty good and beefy.

Setting the stage

It was the Conor McGregor vs. Floyd Mayweather fight and I decided I'd go to a bar to watch it.  While I waited (showed up very early) to get a seat, I got hungry and ordered the French dip.

Detailed tasting notes

  • The jus was not hot; almost room temperature but there was plenty of it
  • The size of the sandwich was OK, definitely not huge or too big
  • This thing is a 4 overall, pretty good
  • The skewers had green and red frills on them, which elated me
  • The tots were good, yet overly salty
  • The sandwich alone was basically "meh", a 3
  • The meat gets a 3.  It was done with a peppery taste
  • The cheese gets a 3, it was ok
  • The bread was toasted, which we like 
  • The flavor overall was a 3-4


I like the Dub Pub and will go back.  Their French dip is pretty good but I would recommend getting "The Lee", which adds cream cheese and jalepenos to the standard French dip, taking a somewhat lackluster sandwich to a new level of joy.

Bread 3
Meat 3
Cheese 3
Overall 3 for good quality